Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

NICE GUYS FINISH LAST. MEET THE WINNERS. 

Sophisticated British con artist Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine) gets competition in the French Riviera by a loud American colleague (Steve Martin) who talks Jamieson into becoming his mentor. Frank Oz reunited with Martin from Little Shop of Horrors (1986) for this funny remake of Bedtime Story (1964). The story is hardly ambitious, but the movie benefits from glamorous locations and its two stars who are perfectly cast as very different thieves who become rivals; Glenne Headly matches them well as their intended victim. Nothing tops the scene where Martin poses as Caine’s retarded brother Ruprecht… but on the whole there are many other solid laughs.

1988-U.S. 110 min. Color. Produced by Bernard Williams. Directed by Frank Oz. Screenplay: Dale Launer, Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning. Cast: Steve Martin (Freddy Benson), Michael Caine (Lawrence Jamieson), Glenne Headley (Janet Colgate), Anton Rodgers, Barbara Harris, Ian McDiarmid.

Trivia: Mick Jagger and David Bowie were allegedly considered for the leads. Later a Broadway musical; remade as The Hustle (2019).

Last word: “I watch it today and it still makes me laugh. It’s one of those films where you’re just waiting for your favorite bits to happen. For me, it’s when I’m hitting Steve’s knees playing Dr. Shauffhausen. (laughs) I’m laughing now thinking about it. It’s funny, Steve Martin is such a serious guy. People would come on the set and expect Steve to be wild and crazy, when in fact I’m the nutty one, and he’s the serious one. We’re exactly the opposite of what each of us was on-screen. Steve’s a big computer nerd, as well, and I know nothing about them. But it was one of those films where everyone was giggling, lots of outtakes exist somewhere. Glenne Headly especially was a big giggler.” (Caine, The Hollywood Interview)

 

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